4. Happy Birthdays!…1.2017

A Monday morning walk on the beach was a perfect way to start the day…who wouldn’t like this Monday?

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We went exploring the island & down to the beach in Captiva. Breakfast was good at the cafe we picked out fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (another check off my  “Florida list) & I loved this sign I saw:

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Today was a holiday & the beach parking was packed.  There’s no fast moving when driving on these islands…two lane road & everyone is on it.  When we couldn’t find parking (& the cops here love to ticket & tow) we went in & out of a few shops.  My t-shirt/sweatshirt wardrobe is definitely expanding.  We finally parked in the Doc Ford’s parking lot (not the Sanibel restaurant…the Captiva one) & walked to the beach.  We strolled around & took in the sand & scenes.

Before we knew it, the afternoon was upon us & it was lunch timeseems like wed just eaten breakfast.  We decided wed eat at  this location of Doc Fordswe were already in the parking lot!  I had a Sanibel Sunset drinkOMGfantastic.  All kinds of fresh juices & rumgreat mix!  I had a Cuban sandwich & sad to say.while it was OKit doesnt even place' in my research project.  On the menu was a QR code that took you to a video to hear Randy Wayne White speak.  The video was nice, but the t-shirt he had on  quickly went on my want list (& Jills too!  We can be sort of crazy about our authors & their characters!)  We asked the staff about it (they had no idea since it wasnt one of several they sold in the restaurant)Jill even sent a FB message asking where we could get one.  Sadly, we didnt find itbut were so good at eventually finding stuff like thiswho knows?

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We stopped at a couple of local artists galleries, which we all love to do & looked at all the talented creations.  I’m always blown away that in practically every place I travel, there are creatives who make beautiful, quirky, amazing things!  I hope they never stop!

We drove over the bridge & off the island.  Our next two nights would be spent near Sarasota…winter home of Ringling Bros. Circus.  White sand beaches, St. Armands Circle for shopping & one of the best burgers I’ve ever had!  Hey, it just dawned on me I can add Burger Research to my project….I think I’m getting close to some sort of degree!

The next hotel was on Lido Key…& it was called an “Old Florida” hotel.  I learned from my day-spent making hotel reservations while still back in Kansas, “Old Florida” either means it’s crappy, needs redecorated, quaint old architecture, painted mellow sunset colors, lots of cool things, but maybe a scary place too.  I was always a little tenuous wondering if my selections would stand up to Jill & Sherri’s expectations.  And on Sanibel & Sarasota, I was aiming for something less than $250 a night…it was not easy.  So the Sandcastle Resort was a little mix of both.  Yes, the decor was a tiny bit outdated (lots of old big palm leaves & pink flowers on the drapes), but the access for both the parking (on the same level & near the room) & the beach (right out the door & three flights down to the warm, soft sand & a few steps out to the water) was awesome.  The view from the room was great (ok, there was a palm tree blocking a tiny bit, but you don’t expect them to cut it down for a totally unobstructed view, do you?) 

And, their customer service was great…BECAUSE, when Sherri noticed the bulging dripping ceiling in the bathroom early in the evening on our second night, I called the front desk right away.  They had us in another room, three doors down with another good view, faster than you can say “OMG!  a leaking ceiling!”  The maintenance guy was up talking to Sherri & Jill before I even got back with the new room keys.  The new room had updated bed skirts, but the same old drapes (& the same two exact pictures, side by side…guess you had to be there…we all thought it was funny).  But, back to the first night.  

No complaints from me with a view off our balcony like this!

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After sunset, we drove down to St. Armands Circle & walked around.  Love seeing these places lit up at night.  We found a gelato place, & while I’m not so much into ice cream & gelato, once in awhile I splurge.  Mine was wonderful!  And from the delightful sounds I heard from Sherri & Jill, they enjoyed theirs too.

Tuesday morning….No where to be.  No need to hurry.  That’s Island-Time!  Have I mentioned I could be a beach bum?  (I’m sure there are people out there that already think I have the ‘bum’ part fine tuned!)  We took a long, long walk on the beach this morning…it was so beautiful!

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We drove the short distance to St. Armands Circle & went for coffee but ended up at La Creperie for breakfast.  A tiny uncrowded restaurant on the second floor overlooking the town square (or circle to be correct).  We sat outside because it was a gorgeous morning.  The coffee was good, the food was yummy & waitress was great!  And, we all loved the sign they have displayed!  

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Then we went strolling around in & out of the shops.  I don’t think there is one big box store here, a few t-shirt shops, but mostly it’s diverse shopping for all budgets & tastes!  And Jill found gluten free/dairy free cheesecake she went mad over!  Yay!  I love it when she gets an extra delicious treat (& while I do need to cut back on sugar & carbs, I’m always extra thankful I can still eat bread, pizza crust & cheese!)

We left the shopping behind & went back to the hotel to the BEACH!  YAY!  We walked, we sat, we sunned a bit, we listened to the waves, did little talking, Sherri & Jill read, & I just relaxed!  

After all that hard work on the beach, it was time for late lunch/early dinner.  They were up for Shakespeares English Pub where you can find an amazing burger & good beer.  It’s a little dark pub in a strip mall that seems to sit right next to a little neighborhood. I had the same thing I’d had the last time I was here…a caramelized onion & brie burger….Holy Smokes….it was delicious…AGAIN.  Sometimes when you go back to a place the second time, it’s not as good as the first.  Not true of this place.  Yummy!!!  

My travel toothbrush, which has been with me for a long time, had to go.  It’s life span was over.  So, instead of just heading to Target or Walgreens, Jill found us a gear shop to go to.  We don’t really need an excuse to go to them…WE both LOVE gear shops.  They did not have a super cool tiny bamboo toothbrush like I was wishing for (I really only need a toothbrush…super cool isn’t really a requirement).  But here’s the funny story….When we finally found the store, I said “Hey, I’ve been here before”.  Then when we walked inside, I told Sherri & Jill that when I was in here before, I met one of the staff & we both had on Chacos.  He told me he’d had his for like15 years!  I said that’s a long time for one pair.  As it happens, a staff person was overhearing me relate this story to my two friends, & all of a sudden he said “It was 17 years, & I’ve had them re-soled 4 times!”  What a small wonderful world!  

I had been doing a little research in my spare vacation-time & realized there is a World Of Beer here….how have I missed this before?  This is one chain I can be on board with.  Jill & Sherri aren’t beer drinkers…when you’re both gluten free you opt for the cider.  WOB had 17 ciders on tap…I thought it would be a great place to show to the two of them (& for me, they have like 140 or some crazy number of beers on tap & more in bottles…I wasn’t thinking of beer-starved me though…really…I wasn’t!)  So after about a 180 mile drive (just teasing) we landed at WOB. I did feel a little left out though…seems like a lot of the patrons had on WOB logo’d shirts…one of them even brought us menus…he was a customer not staff…you gotta love it when that happens.  (Thankfully, I didn’t want a WOB shirt…I HAVE ENOUGH T-SHIRTS with either beer stuff or travel stuff on the front…like 90% of my clothes are that…I MUST STOP…but then again, I rarely listen to myself.)  But, I digress…back to WOB.

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Thought this la Fin du Monde giant sized tulip glass that’s actually a fish tank with live fish in it was cool….AND I love that beer!

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Then it was time to call it a night. We had a direct route this time that only took a little while to make it back to our quaint old Florida style hotel.  It was shortly after that the leak was discovered & the fast evacuation took place.  So glad that Sherri IS observant & we didn’t hear a flooding crash in the middle of the night!

Our Island-time was nearing an end.  We drove over to Siesta Key with it’s snow white soft sand beach & rated one of the best beaches in the country.  We took another long morning walk, grateful for this place, our friendship & that we can share all of it!

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We loaded up the car for the last time & headed north towards Tampa.  Florida has crazy traffic…but we made it to Ybor City to eat at the Columbia cafe for lunch.  Sara’s mother in law told me it was a great place to eat in Sarasota & we walked by the cool looking place a couple of times while there.  But when I’d done my travel research, I learned that the original one is in Ybor City…so that’s the one I wanted to eat it.  It was really cool!  Built in 1905 with so much detailed tile, keyhole doorways, big giant chandeliers, wait staff in black & white tux-like suits, a big dark wooden bar, velvet couches & lots of old black & white photos & other old paintings on the walls.

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I had the Spanish soup (OMG fantastic) & the Cuban sandwich & a mojito.  Found a recipe online for the first (remember, I hate to cook, so it must be good!) & will definitely be including the second & third item in my research…they both rank near the top!

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What a great recommendation…wow…the food was soooooo very, very good.  We walked around Ybor City, but it was mostly tattoo parlors & cigar stores.  We made it to the freeway just in time for rush hour traffic or maybe that’s how it is all the time here.  We crazily wove our way to our hotel for our last night.  I’d chosen this place because it’s on the bay but also fairly close to the airport.  It’s not the Super 8 or the Hilton at $300 a night…& didn’t see much in between closer to the airport.  But it was nice & had a great view of the bay from the room with a little balcony, no old fashioned decor, no twin/duplicate photos on the wall & a dry flat no drip bathroom ceiling!  

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I took a short walk alone in the evening, but there really wasn’t anywhere to go.  There was a bar across the way, but you had to go back out near the highway to walk to it.  We could hear the music though!  The restaurant had fire pits & there was a sand volleyball game going on too.

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Our fun time was over.  We all spent time getting ready to leave for our early morning departure.  I’d be leaving before 6am to fill the gas tank then turn the rental back in & take the shuttle to the airport.  Sherri & Jill were taking the hotel shuttle directly to the airport & would meet me there.  

At the airport Thursday morning, we had some time to chat a little bit & always time for laughter!

Sherri & I hugged Jill & said our good byes.  

What a wonderful almost two weeks!  Claire’s birthday, Sara’s marathon, just playing with Claire, going to Universal Studios with Danny, Claire & Sara, & time spent with my good, dear friends!

And Florida….such a unique, weird, beautiful, fun-filled, wacky, interesting state!  Always glad & grateful when I can travel here.  


the best line overheard at a gift shop in St. Armands Circle by random lady walking by me & Jill:  “I’m really into fishes…not in the romantic way though."

the best line from Jill after touching a clear blob that was sitting on a fence post near Bahia Beach & then realizing it was a jelly fish: “Do you think I should pee on my finger?”  (I’m still & forever will be cracking up at that one.)

the best line from me to Jill:  “Don’t you have a safety pin?” (It wasn’t what I said, but hearing Jill re-tell the story….she cracks up so much she can hardly get the words out.  It will forever remain an inside joke…but I’m still laughing everytime I think about it.)

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